Engineering a theranostic platform for synergistic hypoxia-responsive photodynamic therapy and chemotherapy

Jianhua Xiong, Pengzhan Wang, Subin Son, Cheng Zhong, Fan Zhang, Zhiqiang Mao, Zhihong Liu, Jong Seung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has become an attractive alternative in the field of oncology therapy; however, its therapeutic efficacy is suppressed by the hypoxic tumor microenvironment within solid tumors. We engineered a theranostic molecule (DHQ-Cl-Azo) with hypoxia-responsive chemical and PDT functionalities for the cooperative treatment of solid tumors. DHQ-Cl-Azo is an innovative photosensitizer that is regulated by an intersystem crossing process. Reduction of the theranostic construct in the hypoxic tumor microenvironment led to the release of a near-infrared-emissive fluorophore and an active chemotherapeutic drug. Subsequently, during PDT, DHQ-Cl-Azo helped eliminate normoxic tumor cells in the surface layer of the tumor, and during activatable chemotherapy, it helped eliminate hypoxic tumor cells in the tumor center, thereby maximizing treatment efficacy for solid tumors in mice. Overall, this study introduced a new theranostic construct by integrating hypoxia-sensitive dual-modality therapies and fluorescence diagnosis to improve therapeutic efficacy of PDT for solid tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1502-1519
Number of pages18
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May 4

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 21804033 , 21625503 , 22174034 , and 21904031 ) and the Application Foundation Frontier Project of Wuhan Science and Technology Bureau (no. 2018060401011320 ), and it was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea (CRI project no. 2018R1A3B1052702 , NRF-2019M3E5D1A01068998 , J.S.K.). The numerical calculations in this study were performed on a supercomputing system in the Supercomputing Center of Wuhan University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • MAP6: Development
  • drug delivery
  • in vivo imaging
  • photodynamic therapy
  • theranostics
  • tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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